This was published in the LA Daily News last Sunday, but for some reason never ended up on the website. So I can now post it here. Enjoy!
George W. Bush, equates dissention with disloyalty. The same is not true to those that can be called Angelenos. Complaining about Los Angeles is actually a city wide past time. It’s a bonding ritual for the residents. Go to any bar, restaurant, or public event, yell at the top of your lungs,”This city is retarded!” Watch everyone within earshot, nod their heads in agreement and then quickly go back to talking about themselves.
A city undefended against critics? That’s part of its charm. It’s the glue that binds us as we sit alone in traffic.
With that all being said, someone needs to point out the following:
This city has a race chasm. It’s called The 10 Freeway. It’s commonly been observed that that freeway is the racial divide for the city’s black residents.
The city is racially segregated.
Well, the Los Angeles stretch of Interstate 10, has been named the Rosa Parks freeway. That’s right. The heroine of the civil rights movement. The woman that became a symbol of integration. The icon, small in stature that stood up to oppression.
Rosa Parks died last week peacefully in her sleep surrounded by her family at the age of 92. The Senate unanimously passed a resolution that would allow her to lie in repose at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC. She would be the first woman to be shown that honor. How do we celebrate her legacy in The City of Angels?
The answer: Ironically.
My question: What was wrong with dubbing the 5 freeway, or any other freeway in this city after Rosa?
This naming of The 10 after Rosa Parks is like naming a brand of crop pesticide after Caesar Chavez, re-naming the Hooters chain after Gloria Steinem, naming a home for single mothers after Margaret Sanger, or a smart-bomb after Ghandi. Yes, it’s an honor to have things named after you. But, not just ANYTHING.
Speaking of things that don’t fit with their namesake, there will eventually be a library named after George W. Bush. Let’s just say that there probably won’t be a lot of books there. You know, things we normally associate with libraries. I know it’s a cheap shot, but note that I have the decency not to go after his wife.
As a city we already have a host of problems. The traffic, the smog, the language barriers, the economic gaps, the housing costs comparable to a condo on the lunar surface. We have issues. And we have plenty of people willing to point them out (I’m including myself here). My point being, we don’t have to work hard to give our dissenters/residents fodder.
So the next time you’re crawling along the segregation line of Los Angeles, named after a woman who is synonymous with protesting against it, go ahead and yell out, “This city is retarded.” They aren’t what you would call ‘fighting words’.